Woolly Bear Caterpillar

The other day when I was restacking some logs on my woodpile to make room for some more freshly-split maple, I found this hibernating caterpillar:

Depending on where you grew up, you may immediately recognize this as a "Woolly Bear" caterpillar. You may also have heard the folklore that you can predict the severity of the coming winter based on the amount of black "fur".


You may also disagree that it's a "Woolly Bear", as that name is applied to several different-looking caterpillars based on my brief research.

This is the caterpillar of the Isia isabella moth, but apparently there are a few other moth species that have caterpillars that look quite similar.

Anyway, more orange (brown?) fur means a milder winter. Of course, I don't really know if this caterpillar has an average amount of orange, or if it's more than normal. I'm going to hope it's more than normal so we'll have a mild winter -- that would be ideal for my bamboos.

Although I don't give much credence to this insect's ability to predict how cold and/or snowy it's going to be in a few months, I do know that this guy is soundly asleep. I dropped him a couple of times as I was moving around my yard to get my camera, and he never unrolled.

I found a new spot for him in an undisturbed part of the woodpile, and he'll spend the rest of the winter there (if he's lucky), then will awaken when it warms, pupate, and emerge as a beautiful tiger moth in the summer.

I've seen these caterpillars for years, but I've never seen one of the moths. Maybe I should have put this guy in a jar... Ah well, I'll do that with the next one I see.

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JustInn014 –   – (March 29, 2011 at 12:49 PM)  

That is the true Woolly Bear Caterpillar. We used to have many over here.

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